World Famous Places I Have Experienced
Traveling the World is in My Blood
Growing up I never realized how different I was. Where most kids went to summer camp, I spent mine in Europe or traveling the United States. Both of my parents had a passion for traveling. Even without that passion, my mother is from Germany and all of her family resides outside the U.S. My father grew up traveling and spent time sleeping on the beaches in Egypt or studying in Europe. So I started traveling before I was even born.
For most of my childhood, we switched between a summer month in Europe and one traveling the U.S. I would get Junior Ranger badges from places like Yellowstone and Yosemite. In Germany, I would spend a month with my grandparents. We would visit places like the Berlin wall and bike through the hyde. I remember the day everyone stared at me in class when I told them I spent half my summer in Germany. Up until then, I believed every family did the same.
Now that I am older, I understand how lucky I am. We haven't spent a month in Europe since 2008. Instead, my parents take us on a tour in a new country every two years. I want to share with you a few of the places I have been. Sadly, most of my childhood pictures are buried under original paintings in our new home's closet. So you will have to bear with the pictures taken by myself in the last few years of place I have seen. I hope you will learn a little something about me and my travels. Most of all, I hope this can inspire you to make a decision to take your own trip and see a little bit more of this world. Now. On to the main event:
The Pyramids of Egypt
The Pyramids are so large that if you try to take a picture right next to them (I tried), you look like an unrecognizable dot. I chose to get a picture from a good view point so you are able to see all three pyramids. They are amazing. Some of the stone blocks weigh over 5,000 tons and each is huge. How the people actually built them is still under speculation and we learned a variety of theories while there.
When my dad was in his twenties, he actually climbed up one of them. Now this is not allowed (and unsafe) but you are still able to enter into two of them. If that is not for you, you can also ride a camel at their base. Just be wary of the vendors who let you on for free but not off until you pay at least twenty bucks.
The Rock of Gibraltar
I always thought Gibraltar was in Spain, and geographically it makes sense. However, it is actually owned by Great Britain. We had to show our passports and go through security so we could enter. We all piled into a tiny bus for a very scary trip to the top but beforehand we obviously had our photo opportunities.
In the picture below, the Rock of Gibraltar is in the background. If you were me, you would be seeing the far-off coast of Africa across the water. After photos, we took the winding road up to see my brother's whole reason to visit this place: the monkeys of Gibraltar. Everyone heard horror stories of them going crazy and attacking you. The monkeys only do that if you try to pet/annoy them. They loved our tour guide and jumped in the bus while we were driving up. He threw them peanuts and they jumped on our heads for cute pictures.
And after all that, we decided to climb back down the rock from the top to the bottom. A "half-hour" walk which was actually a three-hour hike. After finally getting to the bottom, we got some real British fish & chips before returning back to Spain.
The World Famous Parthenon
The parthenon is one of the most famous places around the world. Sadly, some part of it is always under some type of construction but it still amazes you all the same. The Greeks built it on a hill able to be seen throughout the city. My parents actually had a view of it from their balcony so they woke up seeing it everyday. There is something magical about the place. You cannot imagine it from pictures or movies. The only way to experience it is to stand below and marvel at how the people of that day built it.
The Sphynx of Egypt
I had to give a separate picture for the Great Sphynx. The actual size is huge, which is perfect as it sits near the Great pyramids. My tour guide actually told us the legend of the Great Sphynx. Years and years ago, the Sphynx was completely buried under the Egyptian sand. The spirit of the Sphynx appeared to a young man and told him that if he were to find and uncover the statue, he would become king. So the young man found the sphynx and dug it out from the sand. As promised for his hard work, he was later made king.
If the story is true, then the man must have had super-human strength to uncover such a huge statue by himself. The poor sphynx does not actually have much of a face, but is given one at the Egyptian light show. I wish I would have been able to spend more time at the actual sphynx, and I want to go back someday.
The City of Athens
One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The city of Athens is my most favorite of all places I have visited. Athens has a natural beauty combined with a history that is unbeatable. If I could revisit any city, it would be this one. I also fell in love with the unique lifestyle of the city. Most restaurants do not open until at least 10 at night. The move theater doesn't open until midnight.
The people follow a unique schedule where work begins around 8. Early afternoon everyone heads home for a siesta. You can actually get a ticket for being to loud during this time. In the early evening, everyone returns home from work. The streets felt empty before at least ten. People stay out until three or four in the morning. Then return home and begin the day again. On weekends, everyone leaves the city to spend a day at the Meditteranean. Even if half the day is spent in traffic, everyone still goes out there to enjoy themselves.
The Alhambra of Spain
The famous author, Washington Irving, was so enchanted by the Alhambra he stayed there. While spending time there, he wrote a book called Tales of the Alhambra. The book is fantasy but the reality is the place was originally built to be a military base as it is difficult to access. In the thirteenth century it became a place of royalty and the court of the city of Grenada.
Inside are fantastic gardens upon gardens. Thousands of servants once maintained there beauty for the king living within. He built many beautiful courtyards (of which one is below that I found most beautiful). His room has a fantastic ceiling and across is the room for his wife and above are the hidden rooms of the concubines. The place is beautiful and astonishingly huge. You would need much more than a day to fully experience it. I loved its beauty and its location high over the city of Grenada.
The Island of Hydra
Hydra is one of many tiny islands on the Meditteranean. We visited a few when we took a day cruise on its waters. I have seen glacial lakes in the alps that are the most beautiful blue. The water here was more beautiful than that. I wish you could have seen it as the picture does not do it justice.
If you go to Greece, visit the island of Hydra. There are no cars allowed here. If you wish to climb higher than the tiny harbor, you either go on foot or can rent a donkey. The homes were all the same style but different colors. Everything looked like a painting come to life. I wandered through the shops and listened to the vendors. The people were friendly and I was amazed by the place's beauty.
The Dead Sea in Israel
When i heard of the Dead Sea in bible classes, I used to imagine it was dirt brown and completely dead-looking. The Dead Sea itself is named because of the high salinity of the waters which make it impossible for aquatic plants or fish to survive. High amounts of salt also make it possible for you to float upon the water.
The first time I really saw the Dead Sea, I was stunned. The water was not gross or brown-looking water. The Dead Sea was blue! Actually a very very pretty blue! All those years and I had been completely misjudging the place. Once I got over my surprise, I was determined to see if I could actually float in the water. The day we went to get in was so cold, I was shivering like crazy. Once I got in, I found myself actually floating! Sadly, I was freezing so I pretty much floated then I got out and went into the warm hotel salt water pool (where I also floated). I would love to go back and visit the Dead Sea once again. Just not in January ,as fifty degree swimming weather is not for me.
The picture is actually taken from my hotel room by my brother. He captured the sun beginning to rise over the waters of the Dead Sea.
Jerusalem the Golden
This photo was taken on the Mount of Olives. Behind my brother and I lies the city of Jerusalem. I chose a picture where you can see it in the background to represent all of the places we saw. We placed prayers in the cracks of the Wailing wall, walked the stations of the cross, saw the ruins of Solomon's temple and shopped throughout the hundreds of vendors lining the narrow streets. Jerusalem is actually a very safe place during the day and the people are friendly, except for the vendors who stalk you, those are just scary.
The Prado Museum & Famous Art of Madrid, Spain
The Prado is known throughout the world for its immense collections of paintings. My brother and I made it our mission to see every single one within the Prado museum. At one point, I stopped on a museum bench and fell asleep sitting up (that's how intense it was). Of every single painting in the museum, I love the Black Paintings done by Fransisco Goya. They are deeply haunting products of his innermost fears, so intimate they were done on the very walls of his home and were probably never meant to be seen by the public.
Even though I did love Goya's work, I took my picture with a Picasso. I saw some of his greatest works in Madrid. This painting is not listed as one of those famous works. At first, I was rather shocked it was a Picasso! Evidently, it was found after the man died. Why? The story is Picasso once entered this particular painting in an art contest. He did not get first or second and ended up with third place. Picasso was so angry, he took the painting home and hid it. The question is...if Picasso had painted a much prettier lady with a lovely expression, would he have won?
The Colosseum in Rome
I have traveled by gondola through the canals of Venice and stepped through puddles in St. Mark's square. Michelangelo's David and the Sistine chapel are just a few of Italy's most famous works that I have seen. I would love to be able to share pictures of them with you. Unfortunately, I tried to open the door to find those albums and realized I would have to remove years and years of paintings to find them. So once my house is no longer in moving disarray, I will try again.
One of the few pictures that I do have, is from the Colosseum. My brother and I are standing inside the Colosseum. The place is huge inside and rather confusing with its many openings. To be honest, maybe it was the rainy cold weather or maybe just the amount of people but I simply was not a huge fan of the place. I suppose I prefer temples to Colosseums. In my mind, I think they are much happier.
Eyewitness Travel Guide! - The Guide You Need to Succeed
After deciding on a new place to tour, I buy my father an eyewitness travel guide for Christmas. These are the BEST. They do not just cover the famous sites in color. They provide everything from details on transportation throughout the country to places to stay and proper behavior. Everyone in my family takes a turn reading them and they are a lifesaver when entering a place with unfamiliar customs.
Protect Your Passport
I remember when I was little a very long and hot wait within the plane at the terminal. Why did we wait for two hours sweating away in the hot plane? All of this was because one lady on board lost her passport. She could not leave without it so they had to find her luggage and help her retrace her steps. DO NOT BE THAT LADY! Keep track of your passport at all times so you won't make the same mistake.
Get Comfy On Your Flight
I have flown a LOT of long flights and they can be brutal. Come to the airport prepared for everything. You never know when you might find yourself freezing in your seat with only a thin blanket. Comfy socks are great to have, along with slippers in case your feet get cold. Consider a neck pillow. I hate them because my neck is just to little. Some people love them. And definitely do not forget something for your ears to deal with the change in pressure. Gum is fine but I've recently been turned onto Earplanes by my mom. Supernerdy but so effective that it's worth it all the way.